Perspective - Journal of Public Health Policy and Planning (2023) Volume 7, Issue 5
Medical ethics and health policy: Balancing autonomy and beneficence.
Maya Mizrahi *
Department of Public Health, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
- Corresponding Author:
- Maya Mizrahi
Department of Public Health
University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.
Received: 19-Aug-2023, Manuscript No. AAPHPP-23-112483; Editor assigned: 23-Aug-2023, PreQC No. AAPHPP-23-112483 (PQ); Reviewed: 28-Aug-2023, QC No. AAPHPP-23-112483; Revised: 08-Sep-2023, Manuscript No. AAPHPP-23-112483 (R); Published: 16-Sep-2023, DOI: 10.35841/aaphpp- 7.5.200
Citation: Mizrahi M. Medical ethics and health policy: Balancing autonomy and beneficence. 2023;7(5):200
Medical ethics has long been a cornerstone of healthcare practice, guiding the actions of healthcare professionals and policymakers alike. Two fundamental principles, autonomy and beneficence, play a central role in shaping medical decisions and health policy. Autonomy underscores an individual's right to make informed decisions about their healthcare, while beneficence emphasizes the obligation to promote the well-being and best interests of patients. Striking the right balance between these principles is a perpetual challenge in the realm of health policy.
Autonomy in healthcare places a strong emphasis on individual rights and self-determination. It recognizes that patients have the right to make decisions about their own bodies, including choices related to treatment, refusal of treatment, and the disclosure of personal information .
Informed consent, a key component of autonomy, ensures that patients are provided with relevant information about their medical condition, treatment options, potential risks, and alternatives, allowing them to make decisions that align with their values and preferences.
Health policies aimed at respecting autonomy often focus on strengthening informed consent processes, protecting patient privacy, and ensuring that patients have the freedom to choose their healthcare providers and treatment options. These policies empower patients to actively participate in their care, fostering trust between patients and healthcare providers. Beneficence, on the other hand, emphasizes the moral duty of healthcare providers and policymakers to act in the best interests of patients. It obligates healthcare professionals to provide competent care, offer recommendations that benefit patients, and prioritize their well-being. Health policies rooted in beneficence aim to ensure that patients receive high-quality, evidence-based care that maximizes positive outcomes and minimizes harm .
Balancing autonomy and beneficence in healthcare and health policy can be complex. There are situations where these principles may come into conflict, such as when a patient refuses a potentially life-saving treatment due to personal beliefs or when parents make medical decisions for their children. In such cases, healthcare professionals and policymakers must navigate ethical dilemmas.
One approach to resolving these conflicts is through shared decision-making, where healthcare providers and patients work together to make decisions that respect autonomy while considering beneficence. This collaborative process acknowledges the patient's values and preferences while providing medical expertise and guidance .
Health policies can support this balance by promoting ethical education and training for healthcare professionals, ensuring transparent communication with patients, and establishing clear guidelines for resolving ethical conflicts. Moreover, policies should consider the cultural, religious, and social factors that influence patients' decisions, recognizing that what may be considered in a patient's best interest can vary widely among individuals. The interplay between autonomy and beneficence is a central theme in medical ethics and health policy. While autonomy respects individuals' rights to make decisions about their healthcare, beneficence underscores the moral obligation to promote patient well-being. Striking the right balance between these principles is essential for ethical and effective healthcare delivery .
Health policies that recognize the importance of both autonomy and beneficence can help guide healthcare professionals and policymakers in navigating complex ethical dilemmas. By fostering open communication, respecting individual choices, and ensuring the provision of high-quality care, these policies contribute to a healthcare system that values the principles of medical ethics while advancing the well-being of patients. Achieving this balance is an on-going endeavour, one that requires continuous dialogue, ethical reflection, and a commitment to upholding the core principles that underpin healthcare ethics and policy .
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